Excess Body Weight May Lead To This Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes Linked To Increased Risk Of Pancreatic Cancer: 5 Diet Tips To Manage Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes Can Increase Risk Of Pancreatic Cancer: Study; Risk Factors You Must Know, Many Stood Up As Ayodhya Ram Temple Model Passed By At R-Day Parade, Opinion: PM Modi Should Stand Firm Against Protesting Farmers, Stones Thrown At Red Fort As Police Try To Remove Farmers: 10 Points, 6 Effective Stretches That Can Help You Cool Down After A Workout, Are You Making These Salad Mistakes? You will be gone within 8 months.”, Once I was discharged, I immediately got a second opinion at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. 3. It was malignant, and I was numb. When my husband told me Alex Trebek was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, I felt as if he had told me one of our close friends was in mortal danger. I spent a week in the hospital, then at home I needed to heal for eight more weeks to get stronger for the next phase of my treatment. 5. The surgeon referred me for chemotherapy and radiation and told me to get my affairs in order. My primary care doctor, usually cheerful and calm, was uncharacteristically serious while we talked about the possibilities, my anxiety growing as he spoke. Alex Trebek, the TV icon who had hosted Jeopardy! They may include: 1. I was a man of strong faith prior to my diagnosis and that helped me cope with what I was facing. Now, I am monitored on a yearly basis through CT scans and MRI’s. Following surgery, my wife saw an ad in our Long Island newspaper for the Lustgarten Foundation’s pancreatic cancer walk, and I discovered that 100% of donations directly fund research. Long a source of comfort, consistency and pleasant distraction for us all in times that, as we … On Nov. 18, 2013, I was hospitalized for five days for an open distal pancreatectomy. If I could give any advice, I would tell people to listen to their bodies. Did I ask, “Why me?” No, I actually asked myself the opposite question: “Why not me?” My mother, at the age of 88, died of ovarian cancer. When I didn’t get results, I saw a trusted gastroenterologist who thought I had an ulcer. However, I searched for the right doctors and surgeons who were not only highly skilled, but compassionate and confident that despite my difficult case, they could successfully remove my PNET and get me back to my life as quickly as possible. How could someone like me, who exercised consistently, spent a lot of time hiking and doing other outdoor activities, followed a healthy diet, got plenty of rest and had no family history of pancreatic cancer, be diagnosed with this disease, which has the lowest five-year survival rate of any major cancer? A few said that they had been expecting it and … Now we slept wrapped in each other's arms every night, as if reluctant to let go. I had drains emerging from my sides, a catheter to collect urine and sleeves around my calves to prevent blood clots. Typically, patients with this mutation respond well to treatment with the chemotherapy FOLFIRINOX, and subsequently, I received this potent therapy. Not surprisingly, this failed to comfort me. I had mixed feelings about this after the oncologist told me that studies had shown patients on chemo got an extra six weeks of life. To ensure more patients become survivors like me, I support the Lustgarten Foundation’s mission to find a cure. I am grateful that my gastroenterologist was thorough and was able to diagnosis the disease when it was in an early stage and operable. The Foundation has been in existence for over 20 years and is very well-established. We knew little about pancreatic cancer and spent a couple of weeks trying to educate ourselves about the disease. My initial thought was that no one survives pancreatic cancer and I was going to die. This cancer experience has taught me many things including to never lose sight of what a blessing it is for me to have survived this disease. Pancreatic cancer is a very isolating disease with an abysmally low survival rate, 8.5 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. Boy, am I glad I opted to become my own advocate and not take the routine word of my doctor. Initially he thought he got it all. Again I chose to focus mentally on “killing the monster,” as I called the disease, and on meeting my grandchild. Prior to learning I had pancreatic cancer, I experienced a range of symptoms—weight loss, fatigue, and loss of energy. I will continue to undergo scans and tests every two months for now, but my doctor is optimistic I can start a new chapter post-cancer. The Benefit of Being Your Own Advocate“Yes, I’m calling with your CAT scan results. June marked my 9-year anniversary as a survivor. 2. I wanted to make sure I taught my kids as much of life's important lessons while I could. The only thing they flagged up was that I appeared to be borderline diabetic which has made my pancreatic cancer worries rage even more. Never go to a doctor’s appointment alone. I was 73 years old when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had no prior family history of the disease. He came in and explained. A few weeks later, I underwent an MRI and endoscopic ultrasound. I was absolutely rattled. Instead of preparing for my grandchild’s arrival, I was confronted with the heartbreaking fear in the eyes of my loved ones. There really was no “good” choice with assured results. Steve suddenly realized he could be looking at our future. In March 2012, I was a healthy 53-year-old, who was living an active life in South Florida. We then depend on our grown children for major decisions. Remember to trust your instincts and speak up when it comes to your health. When they heard their diagnosis of pancreatic cancer people experienced a wide range of emotions. The research the Foundation is performing has an excellent chance of success. He referred me for a biopsy, which revealed I had the most malignant form of pancreatic cancer. By 2011, there were nearly a dozen survivors at the walk’s Survivors’ Tent. The medical wheels began to roll at a very brisk rate. Given how progressive my disease was, I was told I had less than one year to live. When researching my diagnosis, the Lustgarten Foundation appeared in some of my search results so I explored the site to gain more information about the Foundation. That first year after my diagnosis, all I wanted to do was spend time with my family and closest friends. The initial treatment plan focused on my undergoing a Whipple surgery, which I learned was a complex operation with a long, brutal recovery. "I stitched it that way in case I had to go back in.". If I could offer any advice to a newly diagnosed patient, I would advise them to see a reputable doctor in a hospital setting that they have confidence in. If I could offer advice to a newly diagnosed patient, I would tell them to get treated at the best hospital possible and do as much research and self-advocacy as they could. However, refusing to be paralyzed by fear, I immediately went into action and reached out to everyone I knew who had any type of cancer to learn from their experiences and to seek their advice. Last November, my doctor cleared me and told me I didn't need to come back. I was put back on the FOLFIRINOX, but it was ineffective. At that time, I was admitted for further testing and a liver biopsy later confirmed I had Stage IV inoperable pancreatic cancer. Today, I once again lead an active lifestyle and enjoy bike riding, fundraising for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and I am a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council. A day hasn’t passed that I haven’t had that lighter in my pocket. I am incredibly thankful I do not need further treatments. These survivors are just a few of the many that inspire us every day. Fortunately, it never came to that. The organoid helps determine which first-line treatment is most likely to be effective in each patient and also helps researchers identify tailor-made therapies for patients who do not respond to either first-line treatment. Then, after a night of debilitating pain, I went to the emergency room. I can’t imagine a better milestone to celebrate. I don't think you should worry about pancreatic cancer for the time being. I had been having a little trouble taking a deep breath - a troubling symptom for an ultra-runner - so I made an appointment for a physical. While most women my age are wondering what to make for dinner, or whether they can juggle work and errands and still get their kids to sports practices, I was obsessing over whether I would see my daughters dressed up for their proms, or graduate from high school and leave for college. While I was undergoing chemotherapy, I spent a lot of time agonizing over whether or not the Whipple surgery was the course of action I wanted to pursue. My prayers for a recovery were answered! There was something about Dr. Kluger I liked from the onset. Genetic sequencing is changing how we look at cancer treatment and is giving patients like me more options. Thoroughly research pancreatic cancer and develop questions to ask your medical team. I asked him, “What’s my next step?” He replied, “It’s too late for you. After the procedure, pathology revealed that two out of the 36 lymph nodes that were removed showed evidence of disease and that the cancer had spread outside my pancreas. I recently turned 80, and as a birthday present, my port was finally removed! Two months after that initial visit to my internist, we ran the suggested tests and a tumor was found. I took care of a ten-room home in Yonkers, New York, and did everything that being a suburban housewife entailed—all this while teaching secondary math for 24 years to energetic middle school and high school students. I continued treatment with 11 grueling rounds of chemotherapy. While molecular testing is important for every cancer patient to have, it didn’t reveal any specific beneficial results for me. I was monitored every 3 months with scans to confirm stability, and it wasn’t until December 2016 that the tumor began to grow again. Anyway, I think you shouldn'… I decided to contribute to the Lustgarten Foundation because of several factors: I believe federal funding for cancer research is lacking and this makes it more important for organizations such as the Lustgarten Foundation to bridge this gap. At first, the doctor thought it was caused by my gallbladder, and operated to remove it. Remember, there are resources available and organizations that can help you cope—such as the Lustgarten Foundation. I researched the leading pancreatic cancer treatment centers in the country, found an oncologist, and traveled to Boston from my home in Florida for treatment. For the better part of the past year, I had been misdiagnosed, even undergoing two ultrasounds and two scans that failed to detect the tumor. Families can be very persuasive, and mine was no exception. During the surgery in June, my surgeon discovered the pancreatic cancer also had spread to my abdomen. I know someone who had pancreatic cancer and they invited me to a luncheon for survivors and caregivers. In fact, the moment I was diagnosed it felt like I was hit by a two-by-four across my face. While I have some minor gastrointestinal issues stemming from the surgery, I feel great and am learning how to manage them by taking pancreatic enzymes. To minimize my chances of a recurrence, my oncologist prescribed an FDA-approved treatment for certain types of breast and ovarian cancer. However, I ended up in the hospital the next night, as doctors discovered I had two bleeding ulcers caused by what they thought was excessive use of over-the-counter pain medication (and later learned were caused by hormones from the tumor). My doctor ordered an ultrasound and blood work, which showed that my bilirubin count was off the charts and the ultrasound revealed a mass on my pancreas. When a person first complains of symptoms that may indicate pancreatic cancer (see ‘Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer’) doctors usually order blood tests to examine liver function … I don't want anyone else coping with this disease to feel as frightened and isolated as I did on that afternoon five years ago when I wept in my bathroom. There were six tumors of various … I shuddered to think of the reasons. He was brusque, … On that day, however, I was facing something far more frightening: my own mortality. I even found myself thinking I should start scouting around for second-wife candidates for my husband, Steve, so he wouldn't be lonely after I was gone. Today, I am a healthy 58-year-old who is living life to the fullest. I became a grandmother to my first grandchild, Jake Matthew, and most recently to his brother, Luke John. In October 2015, I started 12 weeks of chemotherapy, where I agreed to be part of a 5-year study. I have a greater appreciation for life and I am touched to have so many family members and friends who have rallied around me and have helped me stay positive. It was hell waiting six weeks for the biopsy results. Additionally, the Lustgarten Foundation is spearheading a clinical trial involving the organoid—a three-dimensional cell structure system which reproduces a patient’s tumor to test it repeatedly with different drugs. We often watched "Jeopardy!" Then I had a scare, an enlarged lymph node in the celiac plexus, the area near the pancreas where a group of major blood vessels converge. The first pancreatic cancer survivor I met was Paul, and I was fortunate enough to become great friends with him and his family who I still visit in Ohio. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the 21 common cancers but, despite this, has received only one per cent of the cancer research budget over the last decade. I spoke with my internist and asked if the pain could be related to my gallbladder. Don’t get discouraged. In January 2019, I underwent a successful Whipple procedure. My first doctor, a trusted internist, told me to take an over-the-counter medication for a few days. My most recent scans continue to show no evidence of disease. The routine alternated one week on treatment and one week off. I am proud to be part of the Lustgarten family and participate in their walks to offer hope to other patients, survivors, and their loved ones. Thanks to the support of my devoted family and the expertise of my phenomenal medical team, I was able to stay positive throughout. The associate professor in general surgery had walked in, done a perfunctory analysis of my CAT scan and pronounced I had stage four pancreatic cancer. Upon our return home to Albany, NY, I saw my primary care physician and underwent tests to uncover the cause of these night sweats and the reason for the high white blood cell count my doctor discovered. I would have to move closer to your parents for help." Pancreatic cancer has definitely changed my views toward life. I now look healthy and have thankfully gained back the 20-plus pounds I lost during treatment. That all changed when I started experiencing shortness of breath and back pain that I likened to sciatica, followed later on by severe stomach pains in my upper abdomen. Long-legged and determined, she was and is, my “case manager,” wonderfully capable and reliable, as is my son, Robert, a retired retina specialist living in Florida. 415 Crossways Park Drive, Suite D, Woodbury, NY 11797 Chronic pancreatitis spurs growth of abnormal cells in the pancreas, which can become cancer. It was stage IV due to the fact that it had spread from my pancreas into the liver. I didn't want to be the reason they no longer felt safe. This treatment shrunk my tumor in half and I was able to undergo Whipple surgery five months later on October 2, 2019. You have a voice as to your medical team’s path to your success. I was momentarily buoyed when I found some - people full of life and hope - until I learned that all of them had since died. In December 2009, I was traveling to visit my son in California when I began experiencing awful back pain that was accompanied by digestive issues and stomach pains. After three rounds of the 5FU regimen, the tumor markers began to steadily decline. This regimen was followed by a treatment to help replenish the white blood cells depleted by chemotherapy—a process that was completely debilitating and worse than the chemotherapy itself. I had already been diagnosed as a pancreatic cancer patient, having just undergone an extensive series of diagnostic tests. Not unlike many newly diagnosed cancer patients, I was scared. One doctor’s name kept coming up in her search, and we decided to see him in Baltimore. Now, 10 years after my initial diagnosis, all my bloodwork continues to be within a normal range, and I am more attuned to my body, should any symptoms arise again. I ran marathons and ultramarathons, some as long as 100 miles. Track Latest News Live on NDTV.com. Before I was eligible for surgery, I needed chemotherapy treatment to shrink my tumor. After learning the diagnosis, my wife and I felt like we were in the dark. I then began treatment on gemcitabine/Abraxane, which stabilized the tumor. I went to our family doctor on a regular schedule for check-ups. Then, I survived a brain tumor. Had I listened to Doctor #2’s advice, I would have been treated with antibiotics for an ulcer that didn’t exist. I couldn’t let anything, not even a life-shattering pancreatic cancer diagnosis, get in the way of meeting my grandchild. If you are having surgery, identify a transplant surgeon who has specific expertise in pancreatic cancer or a surgeon who is very experienced with performing Whipple procedures. My ordeal began in September 2013. I needed comfort from others who had been there. I will always be anxious for the future as I am fully aware that my fight against pancreatic cancer is not completely over, but I am tremendously grateful to be here to tell my story and to be in a healthy place again. One November day in 2013, I locked myself in my bathroom and started to sob, hoping my husband and daughters would not hear me. I was only 58 years old at the time of my diagnosis and am 63 now. Researchers are developing the CancerSEEK blood test so it can detect the early presence of multiple cancers, including pancreatic cancer, and also identify the origin of these cancers. During that procedure and biopsy, it was discovered that I had a 95 percent chance of having a malignant tumor on my pancreas. I was shocked and shattered when I learned I had a six-centimeter tumor in the distal part of my pancreas and cancerous lesions in my liver. In our country, pancreatic cancer may be thought of as the “stepchild” of other cancers. The surgeon told me what I’d heard before: he would attempt to operate but couldn’t promise the procedure would be successful. Surviving has not only made me appreciate my family and friends even more and strengthened our relationships, but it also has inspired my friends and family members to savor every moment of their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Follow their advice, but question it if necessary. But they aren't the only ones who need to know this. It was, indeed, a tumor, but the consensus was that it probably was benign. Seek other medical opinions. If you feel there is something wrong with your body and the first doctor doesn’t find anything, seek additional opinions until someone can figure your situation out. Get inspired and connect with patients, survivors and loved ones who are all on the same journey. The oncologist took a biopsy of my tumor and discovered that the tumor had a BRCA2 mutation. A biopsy was performed during the surgery and the doctor determined what stage cancer I had. I agreed and started chemotherapy treatments before undergoing a Whipple procedure. The doctor on staff ordered a CT Scan. Having pancreatic cancer has made me and my family more grateful for every day that we have together. It has brought us even closer, and their support has helped me get through the rough times when I wanted to give up hope. I had been asked to speak at the Pancreatic Cancer UK Annual … I underwent a nine-hour Whipple procedure and was in the hospital for 12 days. Go back in? Perhaps, I thought, I had strained it at the gym. Pancreatic cancer also brought me my biggest blessing, which has been all of the people who came into my life as a result of my diagnosis. (This year, we celebrated my son’s 19th anniversary as a cancer survivor!) Nevertheless, it had "worrisome features" and needed to come out. Recovering from the Whipple surgery was challenging as I lost a lot of weight and muscle mass. If the cancer presses on the far end of the stomach it can partly block … Pancreatic cancer has definitely changed my views toward life. For the most part, I have resumed my daily life. You know your body better than you think. When I returned home, I made an appointment to see my gastroenterologist who ran many tests and was not satisfied with the findings. I refuse to live my life in fear and I am committed to sharing my story so others know there is hope and life beyond cancer. Still, I suffer occasional bouts of survivors' guilt. I reclaimed my independence, and eight months after surgery I returned to work full time as a teacher. So, please, if you need me, look for me. His wife wanted me to have a lighter that he carried with him every day, even though he didn’t smoke. Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don't occur until the disease is advanced. I am confident the research supported by the Lustgarten Foundation could have a life-changing impact on patients and their families. You have none of this. In 2012, following a move to Florida, I started attending the Foundation’s annual Fort Myers Walk and have met more survivors each year. I felt close to them because we all shared the same disease. We quickly dismissed the breathing issue after the radiologist found what looked like a "cyst" on my pancreas. After my recovery, I was placed on a chemotherapy maintenance program for five months and began exercising again with my trainer. My advice to newly diagnosed patients is this: Put yourself into the hands of medical professionals that you trust, and don’t let statistics determine your outlook. If you feel things are not right, they probably aren’t. I wasn't willing to hand it off to anyone else. Why don’t I just enjoy the remaining time I have left? I was 44, recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in the midst of a grueling treatment regimen with an uncertain outcome. It was even lower - 5 percent - when I was diagnosed. We won’t stop until this page is filled with hundreds and then thousands of survivor stories. It’s a cliché, but a valid one, that such challenges can bring out the best in you and help you see what is really important. Today, I look at every moment as a gift and try to pack as much love and fun into my life as possible. Yet in a few scant weeks, I went from running 100 miles at a time to using a walker to circle my hospital floor. Luckily, after the results of my first CT scan, my gastroenterologist thought my tumor was resectable, meaning it could be surgically removed, which is an option for less than 20 percent of pancreatic cancer patients. And the kicker: My disease was caught very early, because I was my own advocate. In March 2018, I celebrated being a 10-year pancreatic cancer survivor. Pancreatic cancer taught me what really matters in life. The Foundation has a very impressive Board of Directors. In October 2010, while on vacation with my wife, I started experiencing night sweats. Silent for a moment, my older daughter then said, "There is no God.". Fortunately, I was one of a very lucky few who qualified to return to surgery, which can provide the best chance for long-term survival. Prior to my diagnosis, I was suffering from a grinding pain in my abdomen, fatigue, cloudy whites of my eyes, jaundice and intolerable itching which began benignly around my chest but progressively spread until I itched from head to toe and nothing could relieve it. I am living proof you can survive a PNET diagnosis and treatment. I had the Whipple surgery on November 11, 2019 to remove my entire PNET tumor. I remember being situated in my room after the surgery in good spirits because, incredibly, I had made it through. The following week I began a chemotherapy treatment of FOLFIRINOX, which I continued for 17 months before going on ‘chemo holiday’ in July 2013, where I remain today. I found keeping my weight up helped me regain some stamina and strength. I truly believe that a positive attitude is necessary to help your body fight this disease. For the next two years, I was anxious and stressed at every medical follow-up, although I felt better with each good report. Pancreatic cancer may go undetected until it's advanced. My journey to this diagnosis was a long one, and looking back, there were definitely warning signs that something was not right with my body. This experience has taught me to not get upset about small things and to have a more relaxed, more spiritual outlook on life. In my waking hours, I refused to own the disease; I never referred to it as “my cancer.”. etc. The doctor reassured me and said, ‘If your body can handle the treatment, it will work.”. In June 2018, I underwent my most recent scan, which showed no evidence of disease. In a few months, I will celebrate a major milestone: five years as a pancreatic cancer survivor. Now, I have a duty and a calling to share my message of hope with other patients and families and to let them know second chances for pancreatic cancer surgery are possible, and our community of survivors is growing. Never ignore your symptoms if they don’t disappear in the first couple of weeks. In 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer that metastasized to my liver, when I was only 44 years old. Four years after the ordeal, my most recent scan continued to show no evidence of disease and my CA 19-9 levels are currently at 14. 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